Perceived Need and Market Trends
SLPs working in the school setting require sound knowledge of assessment and treatment procedures for a broad range of communication disorders. In ASHA's 2016 Schools Survey, school-based ASHA-certified SLPs reported that 43% of students on their caseloads were moderately impaired and 27% are severely/profoundly impaired.
At least 90% of survey respondents served students with language disorders, (semantics, morphology, syntax and pragmatics/social communication), and autism spectrum disorders. Eighty-nine percent served students with speech sound disorders.
The median caseload size was 48.
Job Openings versus Job Seekers
Fifty-four percent of ASHA-certified school-based SLPs responding to ASHA's 2016 Schools Survey indicated that job openings were more numerous than job seekers. This perceived need was not confirmed by any data, and was reported to be higher than the 2014 survey:
- 48% of respondents in the 2014 Schools Survey
- 47% of respondents in the 2012 Schools Survey
- 55% of respondents in the 2010 Schools Survey
- 72% of respondents in the 2008 Schools Survey
The recent economic upturn is a possible factor contributing to the increased report of job openings.
Statistics by Location
From 2004–2014, survey respondents from all types of communities (rural, suburban, metropolitan, and urban) reported that job openings exceeded job seekers. Respondents from the Mountain and Pacific areas of the country were more likely to indicate that job openings exceeded job seekers, with percentages ranging from 60–90% in these states. Those in the Mid-Atlantic states were the least likely to report this problem. SLPs from city, urban, and rural areas were more likely to report that job openings exceeded job seekers than those in suburban areas
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook, 2014–2015 edition, speech-language pathology employment is expected to grow by 21% from 2014 to 2024—much faster than the average for all occupations.
Growth of Elementary and Secondary School Enrollments
Employment in educational services will continue to increase with the growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 2004, guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. The recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has also added more opportunities for funding to serve struggling learners through the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support or RTI process.
"Qualified" SLPs include professionals who provide culturally competent services to students with special needs who are culturally and linguistically diverse, and the number of children with multicultural backgrounds will continue to grow. The U.S. Census Report indicates that the number of special education students in need of services is disproportionate to the number of qualified SLPs who can provide these services.
Early Identification and Diagnosis of Speech and Language Disorders
Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in young children will also increase employment. The combination of growth in the occupation and an expected increase in retirements over the coming years should create job opportunities for SLPs. At the other end of the life span, the large baby boom population will grow older creating a higher incidence of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments such as strokes and hearing loss. The should increase the competition for qualified providers in schools.
ASHA provides additional information about clinical personnel supply and demand in audiology and speech-language pathology through data including ASHA membership counts and demographics; CSD education survey data reports; workforce reports; and schools, audiology, and SLP health care surveys.